Eunice to revive rodeo board
EUNICE — With the discussion centering on flies, cow patties and kids, the Eunice City Council took action Tuesday night to start resolving a boiling dispute about livestock housed near residents.
Placed on the agenda at the request of the Eunice Junior Rodeo Association after multiple resident complaints of odor and flies, the topic drew a large, standing-room-only crowd and occupied almost 90 minutes of council time.
Introducing the topic, City Manager Marty Moore said he had discussed the problem with the city attorney, city officials, rodeo association board members and complaining residents.
“The one united thing I’ve heard from them is that everybody that I’ve talked to is in strong support of our kids, strong support of the young men and women working in the junior rodeo,” he said.
Virtually every speaker on the topic, echoed, “I support the kids, but …”
Speaking for the Junior Rodeo Association, Jerry Gladden said the group has made every effort to do things right, but keeping the animals at the rodeo arena proved more cost-effective, leaving enough funds for prizes for the rodeo kids. Moving the animals after each event would double costs, he said.
Located east of Marshall Park and the city pool, the city’s rodeo arena is part of the Marshall land grant.
City Councilman Terry Bet-tis offered a PowerPoint presentation illustrating a conundrum. A city ordinance prohibits keeping livestock inside the city limits. A provision of the Marshall land grant deed requires the arena to be used for rodeos. The ordinance does not provide an exception for rodeo livestock.
City Attorney Tommy Parker explained the arena must be used for rodeos or the Marshall family heirs would have a right to rescind the grant.
Meanwhile, residents of Avenue Q and 9th Street near the arena complained the stench and the flies overwhelm them. Drainage of storm water from the pens into their streets and yards also concern them.
“We have never convened the (city’s) rodeo board since I have been here,” Moore said, addressing the council. “I recommend that you do that as soon as possible to put in an ordinance a set of rules that will work for both the users of the arena and protect the rights of concerned citizens.”
Moore and Gladden said an area far north of the arena, away from the residents, could be used to harbor the livestock, but it has no access to water.
“We can move the cattle any time we get water up there,” Gladden said.
Moore assured him and others in the audience the city would immediately take action to install a water line.
City Mayor Billy Hobbs suggested the rodeo board could have a meeting on Monday.
Moore added, “Honestly, as the city manager, I do believe there’s room for common ground for taking care of this issue.”